Aquabord Rinse and Redo #2: Bluebird in Watercolor (and 100 Face Challenge #68!)

I thought I would make another attempt at Kathy’s beautiful bluebird photo used in yesterday’s artwork done in Inktense watercolor pencils. This time, I used my full (mostly M. Graham) watercolor palette and a #2 round Isabey Kolinsky sable (this is a well-made, affordable line of sable brushes that I really enjoy.)    I began with a painting I had done previously and didn’t love, and was (happily!) able to rinse completely back to the white Aquabord surface. (As a watercolor beginner, I really love this very forgiving surface!)


I tried a few things with this painting that I’ve never tried before:

  1. I didn’t draw the bluebird on my surface first, just went right in with the paint, as I’ve worked with this reference photo recently.
  2. I began with a dry surface, which I have never tried yet with the Aquabord (and rarely try even on paper).
  3. As mentioned, I began by rinsing off a painting I’d created over a month ago, and was still able to rinse back to the original white (wasn’t sure if that would work after so much time had passed.)

Aquabord is a very forgiving surface, and after this experience, I think that every watercolorist should try it at least once.   Here’s why:

  1. I got a phone call in the middle of this painting.   If I had been working with paper, I wouldn’t have been able to take that call, because I would most likely have lost the ability to blend colors, would have had hard edges, etc.    With Aquabord, I had those problems, but they were easily corrected with a damp brush.
  2. If at any time, you’re unhappy with the results, just rinse off the painting.    Ampersand, the manufacturer, doesn’t recommend submerging the surface (because you risk warping the hardboard surface underneath).  They suggest taking a damp brush or rag (and damp Q-tips work great too) to lift off mistakes.   Personally, I have rinsed Aquabord under running water multiple times without a problem.   I was listening to a video on Artist’s Network TV recently (can’t remember the artist, sorry) and that artist does it as well!   I just use my thumb in gentle, circular motions under the running faucet, and in about five minutes, I am back to a clean, white surface.    Yes, even with staining pigments!   Not sure how you can beat that in the world of watercolor.
  3. You don’t have to even think about it buckling, warping, etc.   It will remain flat as a board (ha ha) no matter how much water you throw at it.
  4. For the artist working outdoors, here is a surface that won’t blow away, and doesn’t have to be stretched or taped down.
  5. For the artist on a budget, no more worries about wasting expensive watercolor paper when the results aren’t what you were aiming for.   All you have to do is rinse the surface, or correct it with a soft, damp Q-tip, paper towel, etc.   Very easily corrected, I might add.
  6. If I were a skilled painter, I think it would be much easier to get dynamite results with Aquabord vs. watercolor paper.

Those are my thoughts, and I would love to get your feedback about this surface!    (Note:   As a Blick affiliate, purchases from these links will help to support my site.)   World Watercolor Month starts tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to it!   I hope you are too.    The July edition of Draw A Bird Day is Friday, July 8!  I hope you’ll join us!  Peace and puddles of paint to all!

75 thoughts on “Aquabord Rinse and Redo #2: Bluebird in Watercolor (and 100 Face Challenge #68!)

  1. This little blue bird looks so lifelike – wonderful! I’ve not used Aquaboard but now I am intrigued and will definitely give it a try. Thanks for the details on this product, Laura! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Larry says he wants to see his portrait and is wondering if you will post it for him and he also wants to know if I can post it for him on BrushofDawn after you post it on your blog? He is a very to the point dog. I told him not to rush you, but he said to ask anyway…he begged!

        Liked by 1 person

              1. It is the only defense chihuahuas have. Other than their cuteness, they are hard to potty train, they are stubborn and they bark. They also think the are 200 lbs and don’t realize that big dogs could chomp them up in one bite.

                Liked by 1 person

  2. The aguaboard is a wonderful surface to work on. I love the texture you acheived with your watercolors. Beautifully painted. tomorow I will begin blogging again. Looking forward to getting back to my routine.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Boy, don’t I know it, Deborah. It’s ever-growing and never-ending! Yes, this surface is worth a try – and keep in mind, if you order from Blick, there is a no-questions-asked guarantee for up to a year. Really can’t lose with a promise like that. And they do honor it. It’s why I fearlessly try everything – I know I can always return with no problems. I think you would really love this surface! The painting is only “over” or “finished” when you want it to be. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hooray for leaping right in with paints without an under-drawing! I find it a very freeing experience myself. Your bluebird turned out amazing! ❤ I think I have some Aquabord in the house though I've not used them yet. I'll save this URL for getting more later. 🙂

    I bought some stuff from Dick Blick yesterday through your link! It wasn't much (the 24 set of Graphitints and something else), but I can't wait to try the tints! I watched that video you mentioned (because i was in town and could watch videos); it looks like a really cool medium to try.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Teresa, you will love them! They are wonderful for nature scenes. And the Aquabord is a must try, when you find it. I wish I knew about that surface a year ago.

      I do have trouble not getting credit for purchases at Blick, and I’m glad you mentioned yours, because I don’t see it on my side. I’ve learned that when people place orders with a pop-up blocker in place, the order still goes through, but it blocks the credit on my side. Would you mind passing along your order number, Teresa? My email is createarteveryday@comcast(dot)net. I have a rep. at Blick who can correct it for me if I have that. Thank you! ❤ Yay for new art supplies! Which reminds me, I need to get an order placed too lol.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I really enjoyed this. I have been wanting to expand into water coloring, but have a fear of “messing up” I may have to give this a try. And your bird is so sweet. I always have to do a little line drawing before I start – wish I could just put paint to paper so nicely. 🙂 And thank you for checking out my blog – cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Marie! I do hope you try it, I am not a confident watercolorist at all, much more confident with a pencil or even a pen, but this surface is really one to try. I hope you let me know what you think, if you do go ahead with it!


      1. Well it’s all in the eye, get the eye semi ok and you can make the rabbit any colour you like. I studied lots of photos….I still struggle with the whole body, preferring head and shoulders….as with most animals really, you will be fine, your animal eyes are great, oh and a rigger brush for hair 😀


          1. The fur is easy really, just don’t complicate it, look for patterns in the shades of fur, paint them, then add the hair lines after….well that’s what I do, but many ways are possible to create hair…oh and the most important thing is loads of layers, like the real thing, with many colours used….it just takes a while, especially while waiting for layers to dry 😀

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Looks awesome, Laura!! ❤️🐦 🎨 I need to try more Aquabord! 😄 I’m curious if you “sized” the Aquabord first like the manufacturer recommends with water? Happy almost Friday!! 🌈🌟

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jill, and same to you!

      Yes, I always do that. Lets the air bubbles escape. Last time I did, there were almost no air bubbles but the first board I tried, there were tons! Would be interesting for an abstract piece to not do that up front and see what happens!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Gorgeous Bluebird, love that you were able to dive right in with painting, gives it a whole different feel, a liveliness as it were. The Aquabord sounds intriguing, will have to add it to my list of future experiments. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Another beautiful bird. It’s interesting to see the effects of doing something many times…I think very useful.
    What is the texture of aquaboard? I like a very textured surface, even for drawing. I just have too much stuff already, but will file for the future. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, Kerfe, it was useful. We’ll see what July brings, huh? Aquabord has a texture something like cold-pressed watercolor paper. It is a clay surface. Absorbent, but the colors sit closer to the surface, so they are a bit more vibrant than on paper. Definitely not a smooth surface, but I wouldn’t call it rough either, more like CP paper, in the middle, I’d say. Glad you’re finding the information helpful!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Debi! I liked the wc pencil version from yesterday better, but it was nice to paint on a dry surface and be able to get a little more accuracy. As much as I love loose and beautiful work, there is a precious pen-worker inside of me who would love to be able to do a bird head in great detail, just a small painting. Maybe someday. Or should I even think about tightening up when I should be loosening up? I do not know. I try to go with the flow. Thanks for your feedback. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Denis, you are much too kind. I don’t know if I’m ever happy with most any watercolor painting I do. I am really glad that you like this one though. I did try to be accurate and get the face right. It is not easy to mix the blue in the head. But it is fun to try. Thanks for your feedback, friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Painting without sketching first? Hello, you made that look so easy and effortless! You are fearless 😁 your birdie looks amazing! And doesn’t nature have the most wonderful, striking color combinations! Great job, Laura, catching those.

    Liked by 1 person

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